A cool blue and white color palette brings a fresh perspective to this Mississippi River retreat.
Most of the heavy lifting – the top to bottom renovation of the 118-year-old cottage just yards away from the river – had already been done by previous owners. It was left to the new owners and interior designer Emily Hughes, IIDA, with The Mansion in Iowa City, to imbue each room with charm. Naturally, playing up the scenery topped the to-do list.
“The house has been modernized, although some details are original to the cottage or very old, including some 1930s light fixtures. I felt it had a nice charm and flow. It’s very calming and relaxing, and I can look out the windows and see the river. It’s almost like being on the water,” says the homeowner.
But what she didn’t want was a nautical theme. “We wanted something more sophisticated, still casual and in keeping with the cottage, but not that kind of theme. We wanted to come in the summer as a retreat, walk the dogs, relax, go boating and use it as a guest house for family and friends.”
She worked with Hughes to create an authentic river cottage look, rather than a coastal or Oceanside theme. Hughes describes the project as collaborative, and is thrilled with the finished design because it fits the homeowners “sunny personality. It has a lot of character,” Hughes says.
White paint is the unifying factor throughout the cottage. It provides continuity and creates an open and airy feeling in the rooms, and Hughes was careful to keep spaces from looking too matchy-matchy while carrying out the blue-and-white theme.
“I chose driftwood and weathered finishes for the transitional pieces to lend a more casual feel and tried to weave some subtle natural textures throughout the interiors, such as the chunky jute and sisal rugs,” Hughes explains.
She also incorporated a combination of weathered zinc, silver and gold metal finishes that compliment colors and fixtures in each room. In the living room blue linen blend fabrics dresses skirted sofas from Lee Industries, punctuated by a collection of print and fringed pillows. The upholstered coffee table is embossed nubuck leather with nail head trim and a custom glass top. Inverted French-pleat draperies in a Jane Churchill fabric frame a stunning view of the Mississippi.
A jute rug anchors the dining room with its stone-wash, sand-blasted acacia finish and white-washed oak side chairs and banquette upholstered in “Avignon Stripe” from Schumacher.
“In the master suite, we introduced more playful color, bringing in the lemon yellow and green from the custom Roman shade fabric and wallpaper, Schumacher’s iconic “Citrus Garden” pattern. A cheerful cornflower blue check fabric, also from Schumacher, covers a pair of comfy chairs. The line-wrapped Bernhardt dresser with nail head trim references the coffee table from the living room. A charming trellis patterned wallpaper from Thibaut adorns the master bath.
The den was enlarged without changing its footprint by removing a bulky built-in desk. A Holland & Sherry wallpaper compliments blue “Bamboo Trellis” fabric from Thibaut.